Provost holds forum with student body following Snyder resignation

Emily Houston, a senior English and International Affairs double major, asks for answers in response to the sudden resignation of former Potter College Dean Larry Snyder. “Dean Snyder has been the dean of Potter College my entire time here and has been an influential person in my college career,” Houston said. “He cares about the faculty and students here, and being treated in this way where he had to resign effective immediately just felt really wrong to me.”

Provost Terry Ballman spoke publicly for the first time about Larry Snyder’s resignation from his position as dean of Potter College of Arts and Letters at an open dialogue Monday hosted by Student Government Association.

“Like many organizations, higher ed[ucation] also experiences changes in leadership positions,” Ballman said. “In fact, when there are new presidents, there are new vice presidents. When there are new provosts, sometimes there are new academic deans.”

Ballman said Snyder was “absolutely not” asked to resign for any reason related to misconduct.

She said she would not comment on the reason for his resignation because it’s a personnel matter and that she couldn’t comment on personnel matters “because it’s private.”

Tony Glisson, human resources director, said there is a long standing practice at WKU that personnel matters are not discussed. However, this policy is not explicitly stated or written in university policy.

In making these decisions, Glisson said it’s important to think about every possibility when a personnel member is terminated.

“But sometimes people, again, have a different viewpoint on how things should be approached and done,” Ballman said about the resignation.

“At no time do we ever want this to impact students, and it’s because of you that we’re here,” she said. “It does disturb and concern me that you’re upset, so that’s why we’re here again to listen to you and try to answer what I can answer.”

Some students with majors in Potter College expressed concern about the future of their programs. 

“Whether something lives exactly in the same form as it is in now—it may not,” Ballman said. “I mean, you may have a major that becomes a minor only, or something that’s a minor might be better served if it’s a certificate. . . All the disciplines will continue in one form or another.” 

When asked by SGA President Stephen Mayer if Potter College and Ogden College of Science and Engineering would merge, Ballman was adamant in expressing that the colleges would remain separate.

“That is not the way this university will be organized, that is not part of the thinking at all,” she said. “I think that does not make sense to me.”

Students also asked questions about the Comprehensive Academic Program Evaluation process. Ballman said the CAPE results should be released sometime next week, and she is still reviewing recommendations brought forth by the CAPE committee.

“We have to give a critical look to all the programs that we offer,” Ballman said. “We want to make sure that any program that we offer is going to serve students well, and it has the resources it needs to flourish and support you.”

Once she has reviewed the recommendations, she will make her own recommendations to President Timothy Caboni.

A student asked how she was addressing faculty morale and easing concerns throughout CAPE.

“I think from the beginning the CAPE process is unlike other universities,” she said in response to the question. “We’ve had 383 different programs. Some of them have had zero students in them. Some of the departments didn’t even realize they still had the programs. From the get-go we said we would not harm or touch in any way tenured-track faculty, especially tenured faculty, and we would honor that. That is not what other universities have done.”

Senior Jacob McAndrews said he came to the forum mainly looking for answers about what the future looks like and was satisfied with the provost’s answers.

“I think she did a decent job with laying out what she wants to do moving forward, but I still feel like we don’t have a lot of clarity about what has happened already, so in that sense it was a bit of a mixed bag,” McAndrews said. “But I think that more communication is better, so I think this is a good first step.”

Madeline Rafferty, a senior majoring in graphic design, said her main question was about the situation surrounding Snyder’s resignation.

“I feel like unfortunately I got that answer when she said that it would stay private forever,” Rafferty said.

News Editor Rebekah Alvey contributed reporting to this story.

Assistant News Editor Emily DeLetter can be reached at 270-745-6011 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @emilydeletter.

Engagement Editor Emma Austin can be reached at 270-745-6011 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @emmacaustin.